Friday, January 16, 2015 at 12:30 p.m.
Room 203, Graduate Student Centre (6371 Crescent Road), UBC Point Grey Campus
Title: No arrivals: The cultural politics of mobilities in queer Asian diasporas in Canada
Research Supervisor: Dr. Mary Bryson (LLED & Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice)
Supervisory Committee: Dr. Teresa Dobson (LLED) and Dr. Henry Yu (History)
University Examiners: Dr. Annette Henry (LLED) and Dr. Donal O Donoghue (EDCP)
This dissertation project examines the cultural politics of mobilities for the organization of counterpublics and oral histories in and across marginalized communities within a transnational migration frame. I conducted a three-year, interview-based and media-centered ethnography in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia with fourteen queer migrant men and a transgender migrant woman with a wide range of intersectional identifications and residence statuses, who were originally from multiple countries and regions across Pacific Asia.
The purpose of this fieldwork was to trace the translocal movements of queer Asian migrants with a critical attention to how their encounters with national discourses, histories and knowledges of race and sexuality shaped the trajectories of their life narratives. Drawing on these embodied accounts, my analyses illustrate how these migrant, racial strangers and sexual others manage to negotiate multiple displacing forces through tactical practices of representation, space-making, and diasporic networks of kinship and care with and through media.
This interdisciplinary project significantly contributes to several areas of theorizing. First, this study revises theories of agency in mobilities research by introducing the concept of mobility as problematic to highlight the cultural dynamics between displacement and movement, and foregrounds the everyday, mediated practices of mobility as various forms of survival that often remain invisible to structural analysis and theory. Second, this project advances queer critiques of race by analyzing how queer Asian migrants do and perform racialized identity. This research theorizes how transnational subjects actively participate in global processes of racialization, which departs significantly from traditional scholarship that underscores national frames and histories of race and sexuality. Finally, this project contributes to postcolonial feminist methodologies by introducing a queer historiography method I call enigma as evidence. This innovative framework argues for elusive meanings, identities and silences as a productive site for ethically charged research practices that evidence the experiences of oppression, survival and everyday intimacies of cultural others.